Exhibit Featurettes #1: Custom helmet padding and you

Imagine this: you are buying a helmet for football practice or because you plan to head butt someone (I don’t recommend this). In most stores, there are pre-determined sizes and styles which leaves little room for anyone outside or inside those sizes.  What if you can get your head scanned and get yourself a custom-made helmet for any occasion that you can make yourself in a matter of hours? Before you scoff this off as magic, take a closer look at this team’s project.

Kayla Wheeler, a 5th year biomedical engineering major, and her team have designed a method to create custom protective padding for helmets. They do this by scanning the individual’s head through a special machine, use software to map and configure the padding, then use a 3D printer to create the final product. The scanning process takes about 5-10 mins and the printing takes a few hours. In addition to creating the helmets, the team plans to test the padding during their Imagine RIT exhibit by having a drop test against other helmets on the market.

3dhelmet_5The 3D-printer used for the project, MakerBot Replicator 2X.

The idea came from Kayla’s start-up company, which she runs with another student. They focus on creating padding for helmets to help prevent concussions. A professor at RIT, Dr. Denis Cormier, caught wind of the project after it was featured in a Democrat & Chronicle article and motivated her to show it off at Imagine RIT while expanding the project. The exhibit will be titled: “3D Printed Customized Personal Protection Headwear”

3dhelmet_103-D Printer creating some of the padding material

The team hopes to get the project to a point where the customer can man the entire process. They can come in, scan their head and wait for the printer to create the padding while adding or removing parts if they wish. They are excited to show off their exhibit to visitors and students, hoping to create some examples to show off.

3dhelmet_12Helmet creation and head scan of a teammate in a modelling software

“We want them to understand the process of how the whole thing will work” said Wheeler. “We will have the test area to show how these products are tested and have the printer running to show off some samples.”

3dhelmet_11The team on the project from left to right: Tiffany Gundler, Scott Quenville, Nathan Marshall, Kayla Wheeler, Chris Casella. Missing: Christian Blank

If you think custom helmets aren’t in your area consider this thought from a professor advising the group: “If you buy a helmet you hope it fits.” said Professor John Kaemmerlen. “If you do this, the notion is that you are guaranteed that it fits exactly.”

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